It is the most wonderful time of the year, college acceptance letter time. As I am watching all my younger high school friends get accepted into the college of their dreams, I can not help but beam with pride. Of course, I am extra happy to see some of my friends get accepted to the University of Illinois. It takes me back to this time last year when I was in a mass panic waiting for that beautiful email from the university that would tell me whether I had been accepted or not. On that day Friday, December 15, 2017, my life changed.
I was not always a die-hard Illini. I grew up hearing about the University of Illinois from my parents and my uncle who were all proud alumni. I watched the FIghting Illini dominate the football field and tear up the basketball court. Growing up with the orange and blue being shoved at me constantly was a lot. So, as I got older, I began to start watching other college football teams on Saturday afternoons.
I know that it wasn't my dad's intention to force Illinois upon me, but constantly being around it kept me from considering it as a university when I first began my college search. After all, any family that has a dog named Chief obviously bleeds orange and blue. When it came time to start thinking about college my mind was wandering as far as I wanted to: Maryland, Florida, Texas, California, basically anywhere that would get me out of Illinois.
It wasn't until I went to the Illinois vs. Michigan State football game in 2016 that I began to fall in love with this university. One of my friends was on the cheer team so my dad and I drove down to watch her cheer during one of the last football games of her senior year. Sitting in those stands with my dad, I was brought back to my childhood when we used to watch the Fighting Illini every Saturday.
The moment when I knew that I belonged at this school, however, came at the end of the game. With every Illini win comes the singing of the Alma Mater. I had been to games before, I had heard the Alma Mater countless times, but this time was different. With my arms around my dad, singing that song, I realized I had found my future home. From that moment on, any college I visited couldn't seem to capture my attention the same way Illinois could.
Now, being at the University of Illinois, I know I made the right decision for me. Nothing makes me happier than when my dad and mom come down to campus and I get to share my college experience with them while they get to share their memories of the past with me. Although my experiences at Illinois differs from those of my parents with the loss of Cly's and C.O. Daniels, I know that my experience in the orange and blue will shape up to be just as great as theirs.